What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer, I received a Science Horizons internship to conduct an independent research project at the University of Oxford. Specifically, I am working in the Attention Group at the Oxford Centre of Human Brain Activity (http://www.ohba.ox.ac.uk). My project is looking at the neural mechanisms of visual working memory (i.e. our cognitive ability to memorize and manipulate visual images for a few seconds) through the use of EEGs. More specifically, I am studying the involvement of low-frequency oscillations associated with a brain structure called the hippocampus in visual working memory. This project interests me, as the hippocampus is often believed to not be involved in working memory. My project will parallel ongoing research in patients with hippocampal electrodes for monitoring epileptic seizures. The combination of results from a clinical and non-clinical population will contribute to our understanding of the role of the hippocampus in visual working memory.
Currently in my project, I am at the stage where I have finished data collection and am now beginning to analyze the results. So far I have learned how to properly work with EEG equipment and how to process the data using MATLAB. MATLAB is a computer program that features an interactive environment for the use of data visualization and analysis. My next step will be to put my data through some analysis scripts that will allow me determine if my results are significant.
How I heard about my internship: I spent my junior year abroad at the University of Oxford. Research experience was a major component in my decision to attend this university. Oxford is well known as being an esteemed research institution and I found that my research interests coincided with several ongoing projects being done in the Experimental Psychology department. In January, I spoke to my personal tutors here (i.e. similar to Deans who are specialized in your given field) and they advised me to email every lab I was interested in. I had only started sending out hopeful emails when a lab that I was most interested in returned my email and offered me some volunteer work. As a volunteer, I was able to learn how to collect EEG and behavioral data and assisted in data collection on multiple projects. In April, I asked the primary investigator (Mark Stokes) if I could stay over the summer and he suggested I take on an independent project that he had wanted to conduct but hadn ’t the time to yet. I eagerly said yes. Later he offered to sponsor me for the Science Horizons internship.
Why I applied for my internship: After graduating from Bryn Mawr, my goal is to enter a PhD program in Behavioral Neuroscience. To accomplish this goal, I’ve been trying to gain as much research experience as possible in the field of Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience. The Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Oxford is one of my top choices for PhD programs so the opportunity to partake in a Neuroscience project at Oxford this summer was perfect!